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Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game (kickstarter.com)
298 points by druidsbane on Aug 1, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 111 comments

A lot of people here are talking about how $250,000 is 'chump change' to companies like Valve, Epic etc. The fact is, it's not. It's a quarter of a million dollars: rent for a satellite office for half a year, two junior dev's salaries and benefits, the art budget for a bit of DLC. Yes, it's small in the context of these companies' overall revenues, but it's a significant piece of cash.

Then there's the structure of the deal with a Kickstarter. A Kickstarter campaign is emphatically not a crowd-sourced angel investment: it's a busker's hat, with basically the same responsibilities and obligations that a street musician has to her audience of sidewalk quarter-droppers. Palmer Luckey clearly wants this money with the minimum of fuss. Why would iD effectively donate 250k to a tiny hardware company? Short answer: they wouldn't. Companies spend their money only in the expectation of a return. There is absolutely no possibility of a return for any one of these companies, because the money is given in exchange for nothing. There is no equity stake, there's no debt, there's no guarantee of future exclusive rights to the headsets. It's just a gift.

So let's say these firms consider investing 250,000 with Palmer to build his headset. That kind of decision is not made lightly nor is it made by any one person. All of these industry figureheads are responsible to their board of directors and their (private) shareholders. They don't have complete freedom of access to their companies' bank accounts. Such an investment would come with equity stakes and strings attached: strings which would likely not benefit Palmer, since competitors are usually unwilling to co-operate, even on something as cool as this. Then, Palmer himself may not want to sell of pieces of his fledgling company until he's in a stronger position.

They (Carmack etc.) might well be tempted to make a personal angel investment with Oculus and indeed they may even have done so. Those deals will be highly secret, not least to protect Palmer's interests.

All in all, the Kickstarter is a perfect way for Palmer Luckey to gain both a pile of risk-free, no-strings-attached cash and a great deal of exposure, without any of the dilution, influence or responsibilities of external investment.

I wouldn't normally bring this up, but this is the top comment and you say it six times: it's Palmer, not Peter.

Wow, that's unforgivable. Sorry. Have edited - thank you.

In fact, Carmack did make a personal angel investment. In the MTBS3D forums it was mentioned that John was the source of the copies of DOOM 3 BFG. He is buying them at wholesale price and "donating" them to Palmer's project so that it will improve the chances of success.

Good for him. If I was in the games business and I had John Carmack's bank account, I'd chip in a few hundred bags too. I have been dreaming of this kind of tech since before the Lawnmower Man came out. I've long given up on flying cars, but dammit this is the 21st century and I at least expected immersive VR by now!

I want it more the worse the economy recesses, the more pregnant my wife grows, the younger policemen get and the more stress my job induces. Bring me my wide field of view, low latency, low resolution escape!

Kickstarter is also a great way to validate that customers are interested in an idea. Even if the bulk of your project is funded traditionally, a nice showing on kickstarter will be convincing to investors as well as developers.

John Carmack answers comments on their kickstarter page - how cool is that?

He gives more technical information:

"Technical comments based on the prototype unit I have been using and conversations with Palmer: The display is a single 1280x800 panel; each eye only sees a 640x800 image stretched across the huge field of view. The perceived resolution is therefore much lower than even previous generation consumer HMDs. If you are looking for high resolution, this isn't for you. For immersion, the high FOV is much, much more important, though.

It is not wireless.

The prototype was analog VGA, but I think the kickstarter versions are DVI.

Everyone commented on how light the prototype was, especially compared to the Sony HMD.

The early prototype could not be worn with glasses. If you modify it to stand off far enough from the face to allow glasses, the fov will be reduced a lot. One reason it can be so light is that it has smallish lenses very close to your eyes. With the limited resolution, you don't really need 20/20 effective vision.

I hope someone experiments with the kits and builds a variable focus version, but the standard system is fixed focus."

How far away from the eyes are the screens going to be? Would glasses really be necessary at that distance?

Glasses aren't just for distance vision, hence why many DSLR cameras have adjustable focus on the viewfinder.

It depends on how good your eyes are. Mine are bad enough that I expect to have trouble seeing it. Most people's glasses aren't nearly as strong as mine.

what number of you consider as a cutoff?

I've never used the device. I'm just making guestimates based on past experience with head-mounted displays with and without my glasses.

My eyes are about -6. There is about 1 inch in which I can focus clearly without my glasses. Nearer or farther and things get blurry. Most HMDs that I've used are at the outside of this range and are slightly blurry, but barely usable.

They're saying this one has a lens that is closer, but they don't say how far the screen is. I'm guessing the screen will be about the same distance, but the lens will be stretching the screen to wrap around your vision. There's talk about a fish-eye effect that I believe they're using to have more of the pixels in your main vision, and fewer in your periphery, since that's where yours are most sensitive.

Edit: A choice quote I found:

We played without our prescription glasses, so our vision was blurry enough that it didn't affect our gameplay. However, one of our video production members with better vision noticed the low resolution and felt it took away from the experience.


I been to the forum of this project, and it's nothing like the ouya.

Why? because the Oculus exists, there are prototypes running Doom3 since E3. Granted, those units are held together by duct tape which is not exactly consumer-grade, but.it.works, and that's what matters here.

Valve and Epic support probably (I hope) means they are going to use the Oculus SDK so that most Source and Unreal-based PC games could be patched and thus used with the Oculus.

Now consoles, the problem with MSFT/Sony using this for the Durango/PS4 is that they would have to include one with each console sold, else you have the chicken and the egg situation where developers don't support it because it lacks an installed base and gamers don't buy it because it only has a few games.

The Wiimote for example was meant to be an accessory for the Gamecube, but Nintendo knew that was a possibility so they decided to wait and launch it with the Wii instead.

Wow. I've never seen a more impressive set of testimonials in a commercial in my life: John Carmack, CliffyB, Michael Abrash, Gabe Newell.

Here's a video interview of John Carmack discussing this headset at E3.


Cue transhumanist/Ray Kurzweil checklist watchers. You can mark off 'fully immersive virtual reality available to the masses' at the end of this kickstarter.

Regardless of singularity thoughts, I really enjoy watching new tech become possible due to price drops in components. This would not have been possible just a few short years ago as the price(and size/weight) of LCDs and sensors have fallen significantly. I'd say the smartphone boom has been responsible for most of this advancement. This device is not much more than two phone-sized LCDs strapped to your head. Of course it's the code that makes the magic happen with low latency head tracking.

Commoditization of hardware components will continue to open new doors for developers. "No one would have bought a $10,000 iPod" - as the saying goes.

is this really what kurzweil meant by "fully immersive virtual reality," though? only involves the senses of sight and hearing...

Too true. He did write about suits or other methods that appeal to the other senses. That seems much farther off. Though, once environments have been created for this headset, I would imagine quite a few people spending a large portion of time "plugged in".

I also think a controller gives a bit of touch sense to the experience. Using your hands and feet for full controls of a plane stick and rudder or car wheel and pedals lacks only the feedback from acceleration and weather. Looking down to see the pedals and "feeling" your vehicle react to your foot pressing could be more psychosomatic than we really know yet.

A large part of our FPS experience revolves around manipulating the player camera. Since the Rift would essentially put the function of the mouse on our heads, we could free the right hand with just a trigger or two triggers (one for alt-fire). The left hand can now comfortably use a WiiMote like remote, or a nun-chuck like controller. This setup would NOT break the previous control-model that the player is used to, since you can always switch back to disabling head tracking and using the mouse/keyboard combo. I'm pretty sure that this would increase immersion.

640x800 per eye is fist sized pixels. This is why they're being marketed as "dev kits", not final consumer products.

One of the reasons the Rift can get its enormous FOV into that (relatively) tiny package is that they're using these skinny little lenses that put massive view-space distortion on what you see. One of the consequences is that you need to correct for this in software - notice the "fisheye" effect in some parts of the Kickstarter video where it's shown on a regular screen.

One of the other consequences is that the pixel density in the centre of your field of view is higher than at the edges. If your eyes are pointing straight ahead, the biggest pixels (due to the lens distortion) are at the edge of the picture.

How many Kickstarter projects have actually shipped a finished product?

A serious question, not a jab. It seems "success" in the world of Kickstarter is defined by achieving a funding goal, not necessarily producing anything.

I'm very tempted to sign on for this one, but I've already kicked into a handful of projects, none of which are anywhere near shipping or this price.

Its a good question that I think lacks good statistics. Kickstarter is trying to encourage people to actually ship/finish projects with little things, like the "expected ship date" on backer rewards to give people a little pressure.

It also all depends why you back projects. I back them for the same reason that I'm a trustee of the Awesome Foundation- I want to encourage amazing things to happen in the world. Sometimes, this involves a lot of failures or false starts. Some people are ok with that, others aren't.

How many Y-Combinator companies have actually shipped a finished product? Same thing.

I agree with this. Giving money to a kickstarter is like Angel investment. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. The running idea is here "if its a bad idea, it won't get funded." Clearly in our industry that isn't true.

And if you ask me, if a bunch of Kickstarter projects fail to deliver and the money is simply squandered, that says more about the "kickerstarters" than Kickstarter itself.

Yes. People need to not think of Kickstarter as a store- because it isn't. At a store you buy something and then own it. With Kickstarter you back a project, and then hopefully have one sent to you.

Of note, money is often squandered in startups too :)

It's more like a donation. When angels invest in startups, they're hoping a few pay off so well that they make up for all the others. Kickstarter projects can't offer that with no equity, so the expected value is negative.

I've kicked into 2 projects and one has delivered so far. I expect the other will eventually.

Jot stylus - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/531383637/jot-capacitive...

They are still making progress albeit slowly. Openvizla - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bushing/openvizsla-open-...

Keep in mind, KS is not a pre-order system. It's a way of funding something you want to see accomplished. Often the product itself will be a "reward" for a certain pledge level, but not always.

I've only signed up for one and it is supposed to be shipping very soon: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joylabs/makey-makey-an-i...

I too pledged for the MakeyMakey. It was a no brainer because they already on V3 of a working prototype. The money was to gauge interest and get a deal on parts.

Nathan Seidle had an interesting blog post on it. http://www.sparkfun.com/news/909

The Zombies Run project I donated to has a finished product and it's a blast!

I've been hacking on an intercept driver layer to retrofit existing games for this platform.


It'll be great to actually get some hardware to play with.

This is great, thanks for posting! I would love to see a generalized driver, either from the OSS community or even AMD/NV (we can dream). It's a little more complicated than existing 3D implementations, as you know, but if the Rift becomes popular enough, anything's possible.

Very excited about this! I'm in for the $300 package. I've been eagerly following the progress on the original thread: http://www.mtbs3d.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=138&t=14777&... . Carmack comes in and posts periodically.

Having been interested in VR since the early 90s, I have to say I am more than ready for any kind of good, hi-res, low-latency VR system - this definitely looks promising, given all the high praise from Gaben and Carmack.

There is something to be done here by combining this with a Kinect or by by finding a way to point a camera at where the user is looking and going the Augmented Reality way.

I have to admit I'm a little turned off by the way those big players are only symbolically endorsing it but might very well get myself a dev kit anyways.

How well would this work for people who wear glasses? I'm assuming I would have to wear contacts to use the devkit version at least.

From Carmack's post in the comments of the Kickstarter:

The early prototype could not be worn with glasses. If you modify it to stand off far enough from the face to allow glasses, the fov will be reduced a lot. One reason it can be so light is that it has smallish lenses very close to your eyes. With the limited resolution, you don't really need 20/20 effective vision. I hope someone experiments with the kits and builds a variable focus version, but the standard system is fixed focus.

This sounds really interesting, but there's a distinct lack of specifications, especially when this is targeted at the developer/early adopter community. How high is "high resolution"? Some display glasses companies (Vuzix) consider 852x480 high resolution, which differs greatly from what I'd consider an acceptable resolution for anything but old/SD TV shows. More details are needed.

Carmack answered this in a comment:

The display is a single 1280x800 panel; each eye only sees a 640x800 image stretched across the huge field of view. The perceived resolution is therefore much lower than even previous generation consumer HMDs. If you are looking for high resolution, this isn't for you. For immersion, the high FOV is much, much more important, though.

Those are the prototype specs, mind.

I have used high and low-res VR and stereoscopic devices. It's not really that bad using a low-res one, latency is a much bigger factor. High latency causes motion sickness and overall crappy response/experience. That said, 1280x800 is actually pretty decent, and allows for high frame rates (try rendering even 1080p in stereoscopic mode at 60 fps -- not an easy feat.

That's actually the size of the panel. The resolution for each eye is half that, so 640x800 per eye. From the pictures I've seen to try and emulate it by printing a game render on paper and holding it a few cm away it looks pretty good :)

Thanks for the info. So it's about the same resolution as the current generation of existing video headsets, but with a much wider field of view.

Ouch.. that kind of torpedoed any interest I had in this thing. I'll stand back and let everyone else take the jump :)

I think the key difference is FOV not resolution on this which will basically put you in there, albeit not as sharp as you'd like.

There was a good point on one of the boards that HD will be hard to achieve on regular hardware just because you'd need to render at a minimum 60fps for each eye, and at 1080p few recent games will render at a smooth 120fps which this implies :) Maybe using 2 graphics cards?

Don't worry, Palmer Luckey has already stated that higher resolution is a top priority for the next version, and it's definitely achievable. The small high-resolution and low-latency display panels necessary are just starting to become more available. The race for retina displays in phones is helping a lot there.

In this demonstration he mentions it's 1200x800 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=v...

Not exactly high resolution (considering the wide FOV), but not bad either

Seems like an oversight that they've left out the specs

The specs are listed on the Kickstarter page now.

  Technical specs of the Dev Kit (subject to change)
  Head tracking: 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) ultra low latency
  Field of view: 110 degrees diagonal / 90 degrees horizontal
  Resolution: 1280x800 (640x800 per eye)
  Inputs: DVI/HDMI and USB
  Platforms: PC and mobile
  Weight: ~0.22 kilograms

Yea, it's light on the specs, but I feel it's a leap of faith that's reasonable to make when you have John Carmack, CliffyB, and Gabe Newell telling you to jump.

I've been a big proponent of stereo 3d gaming for about 10 years. ever since I got a pair of the eDimensional shutter glasses. The first time I played quake 3 in 3d it instantly made me twice as good. I was actually able to see the vectors of the rockets flying through the air and gauge exactly when and where they would hit. I was able to hit people in mid air with rockets and grenades way more.

Sadly Nvidia stopped including 3d support in the drivers for their new cards beyond the 7900. LCD monitors also became popular and didn't support the higher refresh rates needed for shutter glasses to work. so my glasses went into a box and eventually broke.

I am extremely excited about the Oculus Rift. I pledged $335 and anticipate including support for a space combat game I've been working on for the past few years.

I'm also super stoked that the biggest rock stars of game dev are pledging their support in upcoming games.

Holy crap, I started watching the video at $188,000. Before I finished it had incremented to $190,000...$192,300..$195,490. This has some serious momentum right now.

Historical note: this kickstarter has now achieved $360,000 in less than two hours after your comment.

This plus the leap motion could be really amazing. Imagine wearing the headset and having it track where you look while the leap tracks your hand holding the gun.

I've been thinking about this ever since reading Snow Crash. But then how would your character walk if both hands are occupied by holding a gun? Some sort of 360-degree treadmill? And then how would the game provide physical feedback (say, your character runs into a wall)?

A grid of trackballs that you walk on, essentially, with slightly higher rolling resistance so there's some ground friction. The "wall problem" is mostly intractable, barring utility fog.

you could simply put the controls on the gun like in the Cabelas dangerous hunts game. They managed to cram an entire Xbox 360 controller on to their gun periphial. I've longed to use this with other games and the kinect.


Perhaps by leaning, as with a Segway?

Just bought a devkit...hopefully this thing performs well enough to bring VR into the mainstream. :)

At this point, I'm willing to settle for "A lot of fun to play with as a developer for only $300." ;)

But if it could bring VR gaming into the mainstream, that would be awesome.

Maybe people will start making games use the Razer Hydra natively, too. The only game so far to do that is Portal 2, and it was amazing. Everything else is emulating a standard gamepad, and it's horrible.

(There's an indie game using Unity that uses the Hydra and it's showing promise, but it's not ready yet.)

I'm approaching this project with the same mindset...

For $300, even if it just turns into a toy to develop with I will still be happy about funding it (assuming, of course, it reaches its funding goal and is delivered - still big "ifs" with Kickstarter campaigns).

I'm wondering what army or manufacturing facility is going to assemble 2,000 devkits?

This seems awesome, but I'm not sure why they would need a kickstarter project. With the people interviewed in this video, it seems like they would have no problem getting the funding that they needed. The reason in the video is that so they could "get it to developers as fast as possible", but I'm not sure how kickstarter would help speed the development process to get it an SDK released any sooner than if it was funded a more traditional way.

I can never understand why this comment pops up about every Kickstarter. Why on earth would you take out a loan when you can take pre-orders instead?

Low commitment pre-orders at that. The reasoning seems pretty simple and clear. Even if you plan on or think you might need to take a loan/investment later, since you already have the pitch ready, why not do the Kickstarter too?

It could be an experiment to gauge market demand.

Compare a focus group or poll where the results are based on whatever some random person says, in comparison with a Kickstarter where the participants have to actually make a financial commitment.

On a side note, I think Kickstarter is going to be as important as Google & Wikipedia in terms of the radical long term influence it has on human action. This completely reshapes the dynamic and monopoly that capital performs in the consumer marketplace. I continue to be blown away by how much money micro-niche, but legitimate, projects manage to raise in short time frames.

Imagine this as a future game system package: an OUYA console library with graphics tailor-made for the Oculus and CLANG integration- brought to you by Kickstarter.

You put on the videohelmet, and you quickly realize that this is not just another videogame ... Your entire field of vision fills with another worldly scene--You're in the game! One day will come as you enter the cyberspace and you never ever want to get out because reality is shit and cyberspace is gone: DELETE YOURSELF, you've got no chance to win! ;-)

I'm not really interested in gaming, but I'm really looking forward to other applications of this headset. Like multiple screens. Having multiple virtual screens around you to simulate a multi-monitor setup would be awesome. Same productivity, in a fraction of the space required.

EDIT: It doesn't look like it will be possible with this though. The resolution is very limited.

Don't worry dreamer! I bet in a year or two (if this is mainstream that is) we will be seeing Super HD coming in. Imagine Retina HMD. All in good time we will be transcend the confines of our mere monitors and reach for the realm of <insert dream>.

That's a neat idea I hadn't considered before.

If Sony is smart, they would get this to compete with Kinect, and use it as a default accessory for PS4. The Gaikai guy seemed to like it, and Sony bought Gaikai recently, so I assume they've already heard about it. I also think Sony was already working on VR headsets, but it probably didn't work as well, and cost like $700 or more.

I wonder what is the processing power needed to make a true-immersive game. I am not sure how the FPS requirements of a large HD monitor translate to the Oculus, but does anybody know if this is something that can be powered by the Tegra 4 ?

If yes, then the next generation of games will be incredible, social and mobile.

I don't get it. Why do people want to pay for a dev kit? They should be paying developers to take it and use it.

"I've been thinking of buying a new car. Pledge to give me $500 to help me buy my car and I'll send you a t-shirt with my car's picture on it."

If developers believe this technology will be important in gaming, then they will want a dev kit as soon as possible to remain competitive. Note that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo sometimes charge for their dev kits.

The dev kit isn't just an SDK - like console dev kits, it includes the hardware. Giving them away to anyone who says "yeah, I'll totally make software for that" doesn't sound like a brilliant business plan.

Actually, that is a valid tactic, if you are having trouble getting your hardware to gain mindshare.

For this, though... Well, it's already over 3x its initial goal and shows no signs of slowing. They absolutely made the right decision to charge for the devkits. At least, to the plebs, like me.

Higher level developers (i.e. famous names) probably will get a kit or 2 for free still. If Carmack wasn't already part of it, he'd be one of the names I'd expect to get a free kit.

I'll be surprised if notch doesn't drop a few thousand on this before it's over.

He's already a backer...

Is there any SDK information available now? I want to start hacking now so I have some software by the time I get my unit.

I think something like this in combination with Kinect/Leap would be an incredibly immersive experience.

The video sets off all sorts of alarm bells. Something about this is very, very wrong. Why would all these game developers agree to be in a video endorsing the product, but not actually front money for it?

iD/Zenimax, Epic and Valve would all see the hoped for $250 000 as chump change for a dev kit. Split between the three and it's essentially nothing. My guess is Microsoft or Sony would love nothing more than to tie up an exclusive peripheral for their next-gen consoles, and buy the company outright (as MS did with Kinect). This would be a true differentiator.

That they're looking to Kickstarter to sell $300 dev kits makes me think something very bad is going unsaid. My wild guess is that they still give people headaches as with previous VR attempts, and no-one is willing to put money in the pot with the expectation that it is unsolvable.

People putting money into this are as crazy as those who put money into the OUYA.


So the guy goes out and gets endorsements, on video, from the biggest names in the field. The absolute biggest. And they are unreservedly enthusiastic.

And to you, that's a negative sign.


I'm seriously starting to wonder about the HN culture that produces such conclusions at the top comment.

First of all, how do you know they didn't front money? Answer- you don't know that. It's likely some or all them have done so.

There are very good reasons not to make this a Valve product or an id product or what have you. Can you think of them?

The conclusion that something is wrong here may well be a jump-the-shark moment for HN comments.

If Valve et al have already invested in the project, Kickstarter could be more about marketing than funding.

It is a little strange, but I think it's also a product of how it came to be.

It began as a post on a hobbyist 3d headset forum. The guy piqued the interest of John Carmack, who started developing for and promoting it, in tandem with a re-release of a doom game which worked with its specs. It generated a bunch of buzz, so the initial guy was going to put it on Kickstarter to get better deals on some of the components.

Regarding the Kickstarter cut, there was a forum-only Paypal 'gift' donation a couple weeks ago to avoid that, but it wouldn't have been enough. Plus, the rift developer wanted to launch on Kickstarter ahead of Quakecon for the publicity of it all.

This was scheduled to be a couple weeks ago, but then in a flurry, Palmer, the developer of the rift, got a bunch of meetings with some game companies and it's been kind of madness since.

Looking back, it may have been better to work with those companies first, but before he could even get in touch, he drummed up all this interest, and now we've all been waiting on the Kickstarter, I think he feels compelled to launch the Kickstarter anyway, since that was the original plan.

As for headaches: John Carmack demonstrated the rift at this year's E3 and the reviews were almost uniformly positive.

edit: I'm not involved, just have been excited about it for a long time and pledged today.

Reposting an insightful dead comment:


stevejabs 44 minutes ago | link | parent [dead] | on: Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game

Well: A) These are all software companies. The hardware that they would ever make is few and far between.

B) There is no saying that they DON'T already have an investment in this company. Obviously this kid has enough capital to demo at E3, have office space and prototypes already made. At the very least, these companies may have deals made where they won't have to pay exorbitant licensing fees to put their games on this platform.

C) Perhaps this is the ultimate give back to the community from these companies. They all create tools now to extend their games to the next level. Perhaps they want to see how people will use their tools at a hardware level.

D) I feel like a $300 investment here will go a lot longer than OUYA. There is a prototype already built. They aren't trying to sell a end-user, consumer-level product. At the end of the day, you're getting a likely shitty looking developer kit. For $300, they are probably taking a significant loss just on the technology going into the kit.

EDIT: Spelling


John Carmack runs a startup that builds rockets. So yeah.

Privately and as a hobby. It has nothing to do with his gaming work.

Why would they front the money if they don't have to? Kickstarter is also about gauging interest.

In any case, I trust John Carmack on this one. He's demonstrated tremendous personal integrity again and again.

You don't need to gauge interest if you believe in the product. The story they are selling of a truly immersive environment is something core gamers have been looking for for years, and there is a pretty full graveyard of companies that tried and failed to reach that holy grail.

There is no reason to look to a Kickstarter in order to prove some point that there is consumer demand for it. There absolutely is, and this Kickstarter is pretty much certain to succeed. Which, again, leads me to think that something is going unsaid.

> "...this Kickstarter is pretty much certain to succeed"

They why not do it? Honestly, I cannot understand the viewpoint you seem to hold. This is a massively easy way to get a lot of attention, early money and get developers thinking about what to do.

Do you really believe all those folks in the video would risk their reputations by putting their name to it without believing it? I bet there are ton of folks at Valve right now who've pledged. Are they wrong to do so?

This isn't a kickstarter to fund the development of the finished product, it's a kickstarter to get these kits out into the hands of as many developers as are interested.

Then it doesn't need a Kickstarter, does it? They don't need Kickstarter taking their cut. They need a web site and an actual company presence, no?

Doing a kickstarter is part of marketing campaigns these days. It gets you crazy exposure (think of the news stories) and engagement (people are unlikely to dismiss something they donated 2 USD to), and is paid for by the customers (in terms of the cut that kickstarter makes).

There are several reasons to do a kick-starter rather than going with one of these partnerships: 1) Funding is non-dilutive 2) You build a loyal developer base earlier, someone who has paid for early access to the product is much more likely to develop on it and give you valuable feedback 3) Start to build your brand 4) Test marketing strategies and pitches

First, as others have mentioned, this guy has already rejected buyout offers. Secondly, these are game developers, not gaming system builders. These guys want this headsets in every house, but don't want to sell them. They want to build the games that everyone plays in these things.

Alternative viewpoint: The team might like to stay free from possible 'corporate influence'. Also, consider the publicity and marketing they're getting for free via this kickstarter.

Palmer Luckey has stated that he has declined at least one buy out offer from a large company.

It would not be a smart move for any major game developer to front a significant amount (i.e. $100k+) money for a project like this. For a good reason, most game developers are not in the business of hardware (even Valve has stated it would rather other people produce the hardware, but will make its own as a last resort).

Plus, even if it were funded, it would be foolish not to put a product like this on Kickstarter and raise whatever additional money you could. This might also give one an idea of how much traction the product would get. I'm a bit skeptical of OUYA, given its not much more than a glorified Android device, but this product looks a bit more promising because (if the reviews are any indication) it really is a leap forward in VR tech.

Sure, Valve or similar could just give them all the money (and maybe they are giving a significant portion), but that wouldn't involve the community- pulling in indie gamers and fans alike. Just like relationships with (good) investors- the money isn't the only asset.

Will this be perfect? I highly doubt it, but its an incremental step in moving us forward in a field that's remained stagnant on the consumer front for nearly 20 years. We need lots of beautiful failures to get to perfection.

"Involve the community" is a vacuous statement. It doesn't mean anything. What involves a developer community is company support, some indication that the work they do will exist and be profitable. If Gabe Newell really liked it, they'd all be wheeling around desks at Valve by now, and Source engine games would all support this in a couple of months. And then you would see other developers eat this up.

You don't need to "involve the community". You need to show them a reality.

Note however that there's nothing to indicate this isn't happening in parallel. Valve may have a good sized team working on making the Source engine work very well with this now, and for all we know contributed $250K that's not included in the Kickstarter.

They are showing a reality. It just happens to be virtual.

Carmack showed that prototype to anyone who would wear it and from the two reviews I've read, everyone is blown away.

I'm assuming software companies don't want to get in the hardware game, but form what I've read, including the Oculus message boards a couple months ago, Carmack is very active in this and might be the mastermind behind everything Palmer is doing. He may not want all the headaches of hardware especially considering he's busy with iD and his space company.

I think another possibility is that he is not turning to kickstarter because he cannot raise money otherwise, but instead because he realizes that it is an incredible marketing tool. Case and point, we're all discussing the device right now, and I'm sure the majority of us heard about it through this post.

One might argue they didn't invest -- or the company said no! -- for the same reason corporate VC is sometimes frowned upon. Taking capital from corporations with related products can scare future partners or customers. Moreover, why sell equity if you can simply sell pre-orders?

Dev kits usually cost money - even from established players. They're not selling dev kits in the sense that they're getting a profit from the sale. I bet the dev kits cost $300 to make, so they're charging $300 for them. The Kickstarter is a fast way to make that happen.

And if a large corporation invested in it, their fiduciary duty to shareholders would likely require them to make it exclusive or charge fat licensing fees. The product launch costs would be many many times more than the dev kit production, and the reputational costs might not be justifiable. Cheering it from the sidelines makes sense; even if it's flawed, $300 is not a big loss for any one developer and puts more hands on the problem.

It's validating a niche market to jumpstart the investment from a bigger corp.

Very glad I saw this comment! I was going to donate but you're right. 250k is a drop in the bucket for these big players and if the tech was that good, one of them would have just swooped it up. On the other hand, they could be sitting tight to see what the finished product looks like before making any offers.

So why does OUYA keep getting on the front page of HN day after day? If its likelihood of success is so low, why do we keep talking about it? And might the fact that we keep talking about it indicate that maybe those people who put money into it aren't so crazy after all?

I don't have an opinion either way.

The OUYA is a self-perpetuating media machine that is built on a very shaky foundation in reality. It's driven on the dreams of those who would love, in essence, the Steam Box: a console that is not controlled in the same way Microsoft and Sony do.

The problem is the reality of that dream is already here, and it's not working. Steam doesn't exist on Linux (yet). The Xbox Live Arcade Indie Games store is a cesspool. Android games, by and large, are not near parity with iOS games. There's a very real threat of piracy on an openly hackable device that will scare away anyone who actually needs to make money to live.

The dream of indie is, right now, tied to Steam and the PC platform. It's the only place it has worked. There is no reason to believe that the OUYA, which does not exist, is in any place to change that.

For more, check out Kuchera's article on it, which I agree with wholeheartedly: http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/the-reality...

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